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What to do on the allotment in early September

Posted by Guy Barter on 02 Sep 2010 at 02:12 PM

Colder and dewy nights have led to reduced watering need and pest problems.  It is even too cold at night for blight, although once mild moist nights return disease could break out afresh.


• Spraying is almost up to date, but squashes and pumpkins continue to need mildew control sprays of potassium bicarbonate and the large numbers of cabbage family plants require caterpillar and aphid treatment with natural pyrethrins every so often.


• The very last of the young plants go out – plug plants of French beans, chicories and parsley follow spent late broad beans. 


• Plug plants of cabbages and salad onions are still at their early stages but look satisfactory and no further sowing needs doing.


• Lettuces and spinach for over-wintering need sowing this weekend, and space will be found by lifting potatoes.  Soon the over-wintered onion sets will arrive.  These need prompt planting, and the potatoes now growing where these are to go will need lifting sooner rather than later so the ground is ready and there are no delays.


• Many second-early spuds are now ready to lift and the last of the first earlies have reached the end of their road.  The maincrop potatoes are beginning to die back and are being weeded and generally got ready for lifting in mid-September.


• Weeds have grown markedly all over the plot since the rains and these are still being steadily pulled or hoed.  Now that watering is more or less finished for the year, the depressions around plants put in to enhance watering are filled during hoeing and won’t be reinstated.  Drawing up earth round the base of tall plants to steady them won’t be done this year as the plants are much shorter than usual due to early drought.


• Celery, celeriac, Florence fennel and Swedes  are exceptions as these will need watering every few days to ensure good crops.  Watering will lead to slugs so slug control is not neglected.


• Crops are being cleared now.  One, the late broad beans has entirely succumbed to rust and is a write off – and yet last year it was good.  Others such as climbing French beans and bush tomatoes have run their natural course.  The remnants are composted.  With no further need to sow or plant this land is now left fallow to allow weed control.


• Large volumes of crop debris are now on their way to the compost pits.  The less rotted material from the spring pit is now being added to the new pit.  This will uncover well-rotted compost lower down which will be used to prepare the soil for autumn sown and planted crops such as peas and lettuce, as manure won’t be delivered until November.


• The main task, however, is harvesting with plentiful supplies of almost everything becoming available.  Even with the best planning this is liable to exceed the household needs from time to time so that preserving and storing are also important tasks for this weekend.  One extremely good way of using up the embarrassment of tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and courgettes is that staple of later summer for both immediate consumption and the freezer, ratatouille lasagne:


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